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Ryuuji sighed heavily as he stared aimlessly out the window of the classroom. The day was slow and as always the senseless mumbling of the teacher only exacerbated the boredom that crept into his mind. He was semi-excited about the trip this weekend and the longer he sat bounded to his chair the more he grew excited for it. His eyes wandered from the window and towards the girl who sat on the other side of the room, her crimson hair bobbing up and down like a crazed top. Her personality never failed to protrude, he thought, if only she could see how he felt. Then, a pair of eyes suddenly caught his attention. It took him all of five seconds to realize Taiga was staring at him, the small girl with the blazing attitude who never seemed to falter stared with intense concentration. He stared back, determined not to allow her to see him buckle.
"What are you doing?" she mouthed.
He merely shrugged his shoulders as he broke his stare and continued to watch the contents of the window. No matter how many times she pretended to help him try to hook up with Minori she always seemed to find yet another way to undo his progress. Sometimes he wondered if she purposely crashed and burned his chances. Then again, Taiga was weird in her own rights.
The bell rung and the student body rose to exit the room for lunch break. Ryuuji didn't bother, he was running late that morning and there wasn't enough time to make a run for the convenient store. It was bad enough he had to run to school but it wasn't even worse having a pint sized girl barraging him with curses. As he continued to stare outward he felt someone's presence hover beside him.
He was hoping it wasn't who he thought it was.
"Why'd you get up so late, mongrel?" asked Taiga. Ryuuji cringed, his fears were realized.
"I was busy last night," he responded not taking his eyes off the school courtyard. He heard her sigh and shift a desk beside him which caused his own seat to rock violently against the wall.
Something's off, he thought.
Turning to her he asked, "Why is it you are not chewing me out about breakfast and lunch?"
She crossed her arms tightly.
"There's no need, yelling at you will not make a meal pop out of nowhere and plus I don't have any energy to yell anyway. I'm curious as to why you were up late, I saw that your lights were on," she said. In truth, he stood up most of the night trying to figure out a way to get to Minori during the trip. He thought of every possible scenario and every possible obstacle that could occur and found a way around it. It took him hours but he finally managed to memorize every outcome. If he was going to go camping with Minori, he was going to do it the right way.
The next thing he knew he felt himself hurling towards the other end of the room, the image of Taiga's shoe slowly shrinking from view.
"I asked you a question, dog!" Taiga barked.
Ryuuji could hear the soft chirps of crickets echo from outside his open window. He hovered over the kitchen sink, washing the dirty dishes left by Taiga. He was lost in thought, going over the many scenarios he prepared had begun to wear down his mind but he forced himself to continue. This was going to be it. This weekend, on the school camping trip he was going to make as move on Minori. He was going to confess and hopefully have his dreams realized… that is…
He fumbled with the plate he held. Darting his eyes towards the sound he soon recognized Taiga's voice echoing from his bedroom. Opening the door to his room he spotted a girl sitting on the balcony, her legs crossed and her long dirty blonde hair flowing in the spring breeze. Her brown eyes peering crossly at him.
"What do you want, Taiga? We already had dinner," he said sliding the screen door open.
She stared, an annoyed expression painted vividly on her face, then again, what else was new?
"You're acting weird, you're not telling me something," she said.
He sighed before replying, "Again? Just when I thought you were done chewing my ass at dinner you come and try again?"
"Hey, even though you're not my dog anymore I still find it within reason to know what you're up to. You're staring at Minorin a lot more than you used to," she said.
He sat down feeling himself being pushed into a corner again.
"So? You know I like her," he said.
"Yeah but not even then you eyed her like a dog in heat. You're planning something and you're not telling me. Minorin is my friend and you better cough it up before I get real nasty on you," she hissed. Ryuuji noted the narrowing of her eyes and the somewhat demonic expression that seemed to creep onto her face. He knew very well that Taiga was close friends with Minori but he was skeptical about sharing his plan with her. It wasn't the fear that she would tell but rather he was afraid she might compromise it. For some reason he held a sinking feeling in his stomach as if something was going to go wrong.
"Isn't it obvious?" he asked. He stood to leave the room but before he could reach to pull at the door he felt a sudden rush of air whiz by his face causing him to jump in fright. Eyes wide he spotted a long wooden sword sticking out from the wall only inches away from his head.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Taiga hissed.
He turned to her and said, "You know, there's no need to put a hole in my wall."
"Then tell me what you have planned. I know you weren't up all night last night for no reason. That's unlike you," she said, "Now, tell me."
He sighed; he placed his hand on the door and finally realized that he wouldn't be able to escape the situation. It couldn't be helped.
He felt his body rocket through his bedroom door, he felt himself careen awkwardly into the kitchen, limbs flailing.
"I was gonna fricken tell you!" he shouted as he regained his composure.
She crossed her arms.
"You took too long," she replied.
He explained to her the countless scenarios he had devised and all the solutions he had to them in case his plans were to fail. She didn't show any type of expression whether approving to it or silently rejecting it. It didn't matter at that point, he thought, at least he was using this weekend to his advantage which Taiga herself said he should do. After he finished explaining, Taiga could only stare. He swallowed. Was it too much? Were his countless scenarios of backups and what-ifs all too much?
She pointed at him, her index finger only centimeters away from his eye.
She poked him.
"You deserve it,"
"Can I have some rice?"
"We had dinner an hour ago,"
"I still want rice,"
"What do you think of my plan?"
"You have it all planned out, that's stupid."
"I worked out a plan for you and Kitamura too," he said. He had fully expected Taiga to go into a blushing frenzy and act like a five year old to their distant father but he was rather stunned. She eyed him and shrugged in a nonchalant type of way. It was as if she didn't care.
"Is there something up with Kitamura?" he asked. She didn't answer him; she headed into the kitchen where she shoved a glass cup under the running faucet. He asked again but this time he noticed she turned the faucet even higher. Was she trying to avoid his question? He walked over to her as she inhaled her glass of water; he noticed her cheeks were red.
"What happened with Kitamura?"
"Nothing," she said, "Now that I think of it, your plan should work, good luck."
She turned to his bedroom and began to walk out.
"What about your rice?" he called. She stopped suddenly, her fists clenched, she was thinking.
With a turn of her head she said: "I'm not hungry anymore."
She disappeared into the next room where he could hear his balcony door slide open and closed indicating she had climbed back into her apartment. What was up with her?
Taiga opened the door to her apartment, dirt and grime crusted along her hair as he began to pick at it in annoyance. She had fallen when she tried to jump from Ryuuji's balcony to her window. That's what she deserved for letting her mind wander, she thought. Her stomach hurt and it wasn't because she was hungry. She didn't want to admit it but she was annoyed by that stupid mongrel's plan. Not because it was ill constructed, on the contrary, she was completely shocked by how well it was organized. But that wasn't even the entire reason why her stomach felt this grossly irritated. He…he was trying so hard for Minori. Why was it she felt betrayed? She shouldn't be feeling that. Her relationship with him was completely platonic; there wasn't anything there but friendship…friendship? Should she tell him? Should she tell him she gave up on Kitamura? That he was already dating someone else and she had already lost her chances? Her stomach sunk lower in her abdomen. Should she tell him that she felt betrayed because she was the one who was always with him?
That was a lie.
He was a dog…no… he was only Ryuuji, noting to write home about.
She turned on the shower and allowed the water to run; she placed her back against the wall and stared miserably at the ceiling. Why were her emotions so foggy? Should she even go on the school camping trip? Seeing Kitamura with his new girlfriend would only exacerbate the situation and once that stupid Chihuahua realizes her predicament she would not hear the end of it. Then again, she had to be there for Minorin's sake as well as Ryuuji's. Even though it was now impossible for Ryuuji to help her get Kitamura she still sought that she should still hold her side of the bargain. She had to help him.
She stared at the floor, the shower running softly in the background.
Even if it was against what she wanted…
Taiga's ears perked as she heard a soft rapping at her apartment door. Opening it she was immediately disgusted.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
A tall girl stood at the doorway, her long sapphire hair dangled before Taiga's face as if subconsciously mocking her, bitter enemies to the very end.
Ami sighed as she said, "I locked myself out of my apartment by accident, and I need a place just for the night."
Taiga stared, her right eye twitched.
"You must be incredibly stupid if you honestly think I'd let you stay here," she said, her fingers grasped the side of the door tightly only seconds away from slamming it.
"Oh come on, it's only for one night and plus I wanna talk to you about the trip. It concerns Kitamura," she said. Taiga felt her fingers soften. She scoffed.
"Get in here," she spat.
Ami squealed in delight and shoved a tote bag into Taiga's arms. From where the bag came from was beyond her.
From inside she heard Ami say, "Wonderful, you set the shower for me!"
Taiga's eye began to twitch as she turned her head; fire began to spark within her. She could feel the grime in her hair begin to melt.
That night, Taiga lay motionless within her bed; her eyes stared out the window as she felt the sheets rise up and down from Ami's shallow breathing. She was insane to let the Chihuahua sleep over, in her bed no less, however, she thought this would be a great opportunity to get information out of her.
"Ami," whispered Taiga.
"Hmmm?" said a sleepy Ami.
"What did you mean you had something to say about the trip and Kitamura?" she asked. Taiga didn't bother to turn around in fear the Chihuahua might consider this "girl talk" but she had the strange urge to do so.
"Oh yeah that, I just said that so you would let me in," she said.
Taiga felt her hand ball up into a fist and was just about to launch it to Ami's temple when a sudden idea rushed into her head. She could still get information.
"I see," was the only response she could muster. She knew Ami was a model and she could very well assume she was also a dating dictionary. What model wouldn't be? Seeing as how she wasn't very experienced in the field she figured this would be the best time to ask complex yet assuring questions.
"Can I ask you a question?" said Taiga.
"You already did you dolt," replied Ami. Taiga felt her fists begin to tremble with fury. She had to keep her cool if she wanted answers. She wanted to know how she could handle having someone she liked try so hard to get with her friend.
"How many guys have you dated?"
"Enough," replied Ami.
"Have you been in a situation where you liked someone but they liked your best friend?" she said. There was a pause; Taiga felt the sheets suddenly stop rising. Did she say too much? Did Ami figure it out?
"What was your question, brat?"
That was it.
Taiga shoved her foot under the sheets causing Ami to slide cleanly off of the bed and onto the floor with a huge thud.
"You little bitch!" screamed Ami, she leapt to her feet and was just about to pounce, that is, until, she became face to face with a sharpened wooden sword.
"If you want to continue to stay here, you will answer all my questions. Once I am through you will forget everything I've asked and everything you said… got it?"
Ami nodded slowly, she didn't want her beautiful figure to be skewered by some runt.
Taiga's eyes narrowed as she said, "You've dated a lot haven't you?"
Ami nodded carefully avoiding the chance of getting struck with the wooden sword.
Taiga continued: "In all those times, have you ever reached the point where you liked someone but that person wanted to date your best friend?"
Ami could only stare, her eyes trying to read the small tiger that stood on the bed. What was she getting at, she thought?
"Maybe, once or twice, why?" she asked.
Taiga lightly tapped her face with the wooden sword and said, "I'm not done yet, if that were the case, what do you have to do to get rid of that feeling?"
"The feeling of wanting that person knowing very well he wants someone else. How do I get rid of it?" said Taiga. It wasn't until Ami smiled a large and grand smile that she realized she intensively said "I" instead "you". If Ami was in the dark about her motives then she sure knew what was going on now.
"This is about Ryuuji isn't it?" she asked. Taiga's eyes widened as she wound up for a strike but suddenly she didn't have the strength. What was the point? She was stumbling as it was and only trying to hide it would only make things worse. Ami stood, a large and coy smile on her lips, she placed her hands on her waist and circled the bed with Taiga standing quietly in deep contemplation. It was now the tiger that was being preyed upon.
"So, it's clear now," said Ami flinging her hair behind her shoulder, "I always had a feeling you something for Ryuuji but I didn't think you would get jealous so easily."
Ami continued to circle the bed, a very cynical smile spread across her lips.
"Shut up," Taiga hissed, "it's not like that."
"Oh?" Ami replied, she slithered behind the small girl, "Are you afraid he's going to leave you?"
Taiga stared at her feet, "No, I don't need him so why would I be afraid if he leaves?"
Ami snickered as she closed the distance between them; she was now behind Taiga, her lips behind the girl's ear.
"Then why are your hands shaking?" she asked.
"Because I'm about to hit you," said Taiga. Ami smiled.
"I'll make a deal with you," she said, "I'll help you get Ryuuji but in return I want to be able to use your place whenever I want. You have a nice place and my publisher needs a place to take some glamour shots. Although I'm not supposed to be modeling a little extra income wouldn't hurt."
"I don't need your help. I'm not interested in Ryuuji, all I wanted was answers and now I've gotten them," said Taiga.
"Then you wouldn't mind if I took him, right?"
"He's interested in Minori, not you."
"Well, we can change that, unless, you want him. I know a way but you have to not only lend me your apartment but you have to treat me like a queen and do whatever I want," said Ami. There was no chance in hell, thought Taiga. She would never submit to a complete airhead with a bad attitude. But…but… why was she considering the offer? Why did she want to say "yes" so badly only moments ago? She didn't have those feelings, she didn't want them, Ryuuji belonged with Minorin, not her. Then why…
…was she crying?
Ami jumped from the bed as she heard a suppressed sob escape Taiga's lips. The palm-top tiger fell to her knees, her hands shot up to hide her watery eyes.
"Are…are you serious?" said Ami who was taken aback.
"It's not fair," cried Taiga as she forced herself to regain composure.
"What's not fair?"
She didn't answer her, she didn't have one.